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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-29
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2020-29
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  18 Mar 2020

18 Mar 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Ice content and interannual water storage changes of an active rock glacier in the dry Andes of Argentina

Christian Halla1, Jan Henrik Blöthe1, Carla Tapia Baldis2, Dario Trombotto2, Christin Hilbich3, Christian Hauck3, and Lothar Schrott1 Christian Halla et al.
  • 1Department of Geography, University 5 of Bonn, Bonn, 53115
  • 2Instituto Argentino de Nivología, Glaciología y Ciencias Ambientales, CCT CONICET, 5500 Mendoza, Argentina
  • 3Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, 1700, Switzerland

Abstract. The quantification of volumetric ice and water contents in active rock glaciers is necessary to estimate their role as water stores and contributors to runoff in dry mountain catchments. In the semi-arid to arid Andes of Argentina, active rock glaciers potentially constitute important water reservoirs due to their widespread distribution. Here however, water storage capacities and their interannual changes have so far escaped quantification in detailed field studies. Volumetric ice and water contents were quantified using a petrophysical four-phase model (4PM) based on complementary electrical resistivities (ERT) and seismic refraction tomographies (SRT) in different positions of Dos Lenguas rock glacier in the Upper Agua Negra basin, Argentina. We derived vertical and horizontal surface changes of the Dos Lenguas rock glacier, for the periods 2016–17 and 2017–18 using drone-derived digital elevation models (DEM). Interannual water storage changes of −36 mm yr−1 and +27 mm yr−1 derived from DEMs of Difference (DoD) for the periods 2016–17 and 2017–18, respectively, indicate that significant amounts of annual precipitation rates can be stored in and released from the active rock glacier. Heterogeneous ice and water contents show ice-rich permafrost and supra-, intra- and sub-permafrost aquifers in the subsurface. Active layer and ice-rich permafrost control traps and pathways of shallow ground water, and thus regulate interannual storage changes and water releases from the active rock glacier in the dry mountain catchment. The ice content of 1.7–2.0 × 109 kg in the active Dos Lenguas rock glacier represents an important long-term ice reservoir, just like other ground ice deposits in the vicinity, if compared to surface ice that covers less than 3 % of the high mountain catchment.

Christian Halla et al.

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Christian Halla et al.

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Short summary
In the semi-arid to arid Andes of Argentina, rock glaciers contain invisible and unknown amounts of ground ice that could become more important in future for the water availability during the dry season. The study shows that the investigated rock glacier represents an important long-term ice reservoir in the dry mountain catchment and that interannual changes of ground ice can store and release significant amounts of annual precipitation.
In the semi-arid to arid Andes of Argentina, rock glaciers contain invisible and unknown amounts...
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